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Jefferson County hearing for Matt Pitt today

Youth evangelist Matt Pitt will be in court in Jefferson County today to face charges of allegedly impersonating a peace officer. Pitt, who had pleaded guilty to a similar charge in Shelby County, is currently in jail in Shelby County after his probation was revoked following his arrest in Jefferson County. A subsequent hearing before Judge Dan Reeves resulted in Pitt being ordered to serve the remainder of his sentence from the original arrest.

Today’s hearing stems from an incident in Grayson Valley where a resident, Brandon Vessels, said he encountered Pitt in the woods near his town home. Vessels testified in Pitt’s probation revocation hearing in Shelby County in October.

Matt Pitt at the time of his arrest in August
photo courtesy of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

During witness testimony,  Vessels, who lives in Grayson Valley where the June incident allegedly occurred, said he and his wife returned home from their honeymoon in May to find a white Acura Integra parked near their town home. Vessels testified that he witness a “glass pipe glowing” inside the car, which was occupied by four young adult males. When Vessels confronted the vehicle, it sped off. Later that night, Vessels said, he called police to report four-wheelers riding through the nearby woods in the early morning hours.

On June 15, Vessels witnessed a four-wheeler near his home in the nearby woods and when he walked about five feet into the woods, he witnessed an open rifle bag with the butt of a rifle showing. Vessels, who has military experience as a military police officer, left the rifle and told his wife to call police, he testified. He and a neighbor waited near the rifle when two four-wheelers rode up. Vessels testified that one of the men on a four-wheeler identified himself as Matt Pitt. Vessels testified that Pitt presented a badge, took the rifle and drove off.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Chris Sharit, who works with the Crimes Against Persons Unit, testified that he tried to contact Pitt for almost four weeks after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He testified that he contacted him July 22-26, July 29-31, Aug. 5-9 and Aug. 12-14. Vessels had identified Pitt from a lineup on July 22, Sharit testified.

Sharit testified that he believed Pitt was intoxicated during an interview with NBC 13 on Aug. 20. Sharit did not see Pitt in person that night, saying he saw most of the video. Birmingham police officer Joel Smith was a responding officer Aug. 20, the night Pitt tumbled down Red Mountain in an attempt to run away from police. Smith testified that three officers got Pitt on the ground after he tried to run. Smith testified that the only noticeable injury Pitt had sustained was a laceration to his head. He testified that he didn’t smell alcohol or look into Pitt’s eyes for signs of possible impairment.

Officer Elizabeth Robertson, a booking deputy at Jefferson County Jail, testified that Pitt identified himself to another deputy while being booked as working for Mike Hale. He was asked three times by that deputy who he worked for and each time responded, “Mike Hale.” Robertson said that when she asked Pitt who he worked for, he said that he had  a ministry called The Basement.

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